Tuesday is graduation day at the New York City Fire Academy, and this particular ceremony also doubles as a bit of a landmark. The graduation takes place at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn; Mayor Bill de Blasio is scheduled to address the new graduates at 11 a.m., along with outgoing Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano and Department Chief Edward Kilduff. The mayor will be speaking to a graduating class of 286 people, about 45 percent of whom identify as black, Latino or Asian. And four of them are women, bringing the total number of female firefighters in the FDNY to 41. There haven't been that many women in the department since 1982, the first year the FDNY was required to allow female firefighters to serve following a lengthy court battle.
Photo by Santiago Felipe Sarinya Srisakul, current president of the United Women Firefighters.
There are about 10,500 active-duty firefighters in the FDNY, meaning that even with the new graduates, women make up less than one half of one percent of their ranks. For the United Women Firefighters, today's graduation represents real, if frustratingly slow, progress.
The UWF is a fraternal organization that represents female firefighters in the FDNY. In a statement, they expressed both optimism about their growing numbers and continuing frustration at the snail-like speed at which women are hired in the department:More »